This Paris Bar Invented the Bloody Mary 100 Years Ago — and Legend Says Hemingway Helped Name the Cocktail

We'll drink to that.

The Paris bar famous for inventing the bloody mary is celebrating 100 years of the famous drink this month.

Harry's New York Bar celebrated the centennial of its tomato juice cocktail on Thursday. The bar, which opened in 1911, is famous for many reasons — like being the former watering hole of expat writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. But the bar is also the birthplace of the world's favorite hangover cure.

According to The Associated Press, the drink was created by a bartender named Fernand Petiot. And by 1921, the recipe was published in a book called "Harry's ABC of Cocktails."

The recipe has since become iconic: salt and pepper, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, vodka, and tomato juice.

But the story behind the cocktail is a bit more muddled.

According to one local legend, Petiot invented the cocktail when Hemingway was dating a woman named Mary. Some people say that the writer wanted a drink mixed with juice so she wouldn't smell the alcohol on his breath.

"While he was drinking it, he was saying 'bloody Mary,'" Franz-Arthur MacElhone, great-grandson of bar founder Harry MacElhone, told The AP.

Harry's Bar in Paris
MEHDI FEDOUACH/AFP via Getty Images

Another version of the story says that Petiot invented it for a woman named Mary who used to dance in a Chicago bar called the Bucket of Blood. (Others outside the bar say that it was named for Mary Queen of Tudor.)

However it came about, the drink has grown to legendary status around the world — with bloody mary bars and even one version with cheese curds on top.

The celebration at Harry's Bar comes while France is battling a growing wave of the omicron strain of COVID-19. Although Paris has shut down nightclubs for the moment, bars are still allowed to operate. All patrons must present health passes in order to enter.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles